Lesego NdlovuBallTalent

Favorite quote: “Perseverance is the most important trait because your goals become a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’”

What is your story (tell us about yourself)?
I have always sought to use my zeal for business and technology to positively impact our society. I studied marketing because I felt it was the best degree for an entrepreneur and I was fortunate to obtain a bursary for accounting afterwards. I enjoy learning the different domains of business as I see it, to use in a single skillet for improving my business. There is no better feeling than seeing people realise their potential.

When did you start your first business and what inspired you to start?
There are many talented sports players in our community who went undiscovered. We realised this with our older peers and saw it happening with our fellow peers and felt we needed to change this pattern. My co-founder, Simon Mokgotlhoa, and I spent two years hacking away starting in 2014, beginning with learning to program and build the platform up to a prototype phase.

What is the Key Objective(s) and Vision of your business? (Has it changed overtime or is has it always been this?)
BalllTalent seeks to expose more players to be discovered on the platform and grow the largest dataset of youth athletes in sports on the African continent, thereby unleashing the next generation of sports stars. It has always been like this with our main focus shifting from men’s youth football to women’s football.

What challenges did you face in your journey? What’s the biggest obstacle you had to overcome (are still overcoming)?
We have had many challenges and one of the earliest being access to cameras to record. The funny thing is by beginning to prototype our app. We approached a drone company who were impressed by the work we put in to develop BallTalent that they did pro bono work so that we could cover our first few tournaments. This showed that the most important thing is to start and let the ‘how’ emerge in the journey.

How did you manage to navigate your company through this period of the Covid-19 pandemic? (What business strategies/operational adjustments have you made over this period and how has it impacted your business model?)
It has been ironic because COVID-19 increased demand for our business because scouts couldn’t travel as easily as before but at the same time football was not taking place as frequently as before the pandemic. The most important development for BallTalent during the pandemic was to make the application more capable of handling the scouting process.

How do you approach networking and building partnerships in your industry?
We are constantly networking with incumbents in the sports world whether it be through tournaments we host or at games that we record. I believe development can only happen by creating business relationships with like-minded individuals and that these are relationships that can prove to be lifelong.

Do you have (or ever had) a mentor in your journey, and do you believe it helped (if yes, in what way)?
Yes, I have had a mentor in the journey. The mentor I worked with at the time proved helpful because at the time we were formulating our sales strategy and my mentor had sales experience that enabled us to develop a more effective plan.

What is your perspective on the South African entrepreneurial landscape before and after Covid-19 pandemic? (Would you say the “new normal” context drives more or less opportunities for entrepreneurs?) How can entrepreneurial policy development aid in expanding opportunities in this new context?
I can say that there have been new ideas inspired by situations that entrepreneurs have come across during the pandemic which has led to more novel ideas and this shows that South Africa does have creative people within our society. In regards to the entrepreneurial policy I feel that awareness is the most important element that is missing as the possibilities of being an entrepreneur is still a foreign concept to our youth.

In your opinion, what are the secrets to being a successful entrepreneur?
Perseverance is the most important along with being open minded and having a very capable team. This is the combination that will win in the long run.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
I would say ‘START’ because we often have many questions and a lot of them cannot be answered until you’re in the field.